Through the Bible Day by Day
And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
A PROSPEROUS NATION
1Ki_4:1-7; 1Ki_20:1-43; 1Ki_21:1-29; 1Ki_22:1-53
What a picture is here given of national contentment and prosperity! We can almost hear the gladsome voice of the myriad-peopled land, teeming with young life and laden with golden harvests. It was the summer of their national existence. The sacred scribe enumerates first the high officials of the court, then the daily provision of the king, his studies, and his fame. Abundant proof was yielded by all these circumstances to the manner in which God kept the pledges which had been made to David, his father.
Here is Solomon “in all his glory,” but as we turn from him to the lowly Carpenter of Nazareth, who had nowhere to lay His head; who found His friends among the poor; and who ultimately laid down His life a ransom for many, we realize that, even apart from His divine nature, His was the nobler ideal and the richer existence. “A greater than Solomon is here.” Who can measure His empire or resources? What tongue can recount His wisdom? Happy and safe are they that sit at His table, hear His words, and are joint-heirs with Him in His Kingdom! Rom_8:17.
BREAKING THREE COMMANDMENTS
1Ki_21:1-29; 1Ki_1:1-53; 1Ki_2:1-46; 1Ki_3:1-28; 1Ki_4:1-34; 1Ki_5:1-18; 1Ki_6:1-38; 1Ki_7:1-51; 1Ki_8:1-66; 1Ki_9:1-28; 1Ki_10:1-29; 1Ki_11:1-43; 1Ki_12:1-33; 1Ki_13:1-34; 1Ki_14:1-31; 1Ki_15:1-34; 1Ki_16:1-34
From a worldly point of view Naboth might have done a good stroke of business by selling his estate to. Ahab. A royal price and assured favor might have been his-but he had a conscience! Above the persuasive tones of the monarch’s offer sounded the voice of God: “The land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is mine.” See Lev_25:23; Num_36:7; Eze_46:18.
Ahab knew perfectly well that Jezebel could not give him the property of another except by foul means, but he took pains not to inquire. Though the direct orders for Naboth’s death did not come from him, yet, by his silence, he was an accomplice and an accessory; and divine justice penetrates all such specious excuses. God holds us responsible for wrongs which we do not arrest, though we have the power. The crime was blacker because of the pretext of religion, as suggested by a fast. See also 2Ki_9:26. The blood of murdered innocence cries to God, and his requital, though delayed, is inevitable. See Rev_6:9-10.
And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
HUMBLED BY THE PROPHET’S REBUKE
Once before, when his presence had been urgently needed, Elijah had fled for his life. But there was no vacillation now. He dared face not only Ahab, but his two ruthless captains. He acted as an incarnate conscience. Ahab had perhaps solaced himself with the idea that he was not a murderer. How should he know what Jezebel had done with his seal! But the crime was not Jezebel’s alone; it was his also. “Thus saith the Lord, Thou hast killed.”
Though the king knew it not, Elijah was his best friend, while Jezebel was his direst foe. Sin distorts everything. Let us not be surprised if men hate us and count us their enemies when we charge them with their sins! “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you… and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely.” Each of the woes which the prophet foretold came true. Ahab postponed their fulfillment for some three years by a partial repentance; but at the end of that time he went back to his evil ways, and every item was fulfilled. God is faithful. He bears witness to His witnesses. His mills grind slowly, but they grind to powder!